A few weeks ago, I envisioned a connected community of wild ones, natural healers, and truth seekers. A web of individuals interested in transitioning from a chemically processed lifestyle to a more organic, self-loving, and plant-powered one.
With that in mind, I reached out to all my favorite friends - new and old - running small businesses, focused on plant-powered, natural products. Turns out that usually when products are plant-powered, they end up being cruelty-free and vegan. Although this is not a vegan website, it is a place for all individuals wanting to live more plant-powered from beauty to body care to diet.
So, here we are! This is the first interview of the series. In this post, I chatted with Elysse, owner of Wabi-Sabi Botanicals, a 100% vegan, cruelty-free body product line. Elysse shares her transition into a more loving, kind relationship with herself, how she uncovered her passion for plant-based beauty and skincare products, and some of the tips she suggests for any one else looking to transition, too.
We hope you enjoy and if you enjoyed this interview, please share. The share buttons are at the bottom of the post, or you can simply grab the URL above to share with your fellow wild ones.
Editor's Note: This interview is part of the Plant-Powered + Small Business Interview Series. If you're new to Die Vibrant, welcome! Whether you want to infuse more plants into your daily life, transform your beauty routine from conventional to all natural, or want to eat more plants, you're bound to find something here for you. Don't forget to download the free guide to Plant-Powered + Holistic Living. If you own a small, plant-powered business, and want to add your voice to the interview series, shoot me an email here.
Who are you? What has your journey looked like getting to where you are today + where are you located in the world?
Who am I? To be honest, I’m still getting to know myself. I do know that my name is Elysse, that I’m a creative, a dreamer, a wanderer, a lover -- of nature, of people, of love especially -- a believer of something greater than myself, a child at heart, a reader, a thinker, and a learner. I was born and raised in Southern California.
My journey has been, probably much like the journeys of many others. I spent many years feeling disconnected, different, less than and sometimes better than the people around me. It took me a long time and some real soul-searching to realize that, in fact, everything is connected, that I’m only disconnected when I choose to be, that we share far more similarities than differences, and that I’m no more or less important than anyone else.
When I stopped fixating on my self-imagined importance or unimportance, I freed myself up to participate in my life -- to discover my passions, to fall in love, to grow spiritually. In getting to know myself, I learned that I am happiest when I am engaged with nature, when I live in a way that is respectful of it.
By chance (or was it fate?), I discovered that my passion lies in creating plant-based beauty and skincare products that encourage myself and others to feel beautiful within and without.
All your (amazing) products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, natural, and organic. Why did you decide to create plant-powered products? What drew you to plants?
It never occurred to me to make products with anything else. Some use natural but highly processed ingredients or ‘naturally-derived’ ingredients (ie. emulsifying wax) in their products and that’s fine, I totally respect that. Working with those ingredients is an art unto itself.
But I really believe that the Earth was created with everything we could possibly need, that there is a remedy for every issue or problem, and that organic ingredients need not go through a ton of processing to be effective or usable.
What does the creative process look like for you when you’re formulating a new product?
I find inspiration everywhere. In photos, in food, in sunsets, in things people say. Once I’m inspired, I write my ideas down. I brainstorm. I have an educated understanding of each ingredient I incorporate into my products, from it’s active constituents and skin benefits to it’s color, scent and texture. I get to know each and every plant, play with it, become friends with it, and then group it with other plants that will complement or enhance it.
What is your favorite plant to work with? What are its qualities that make it stand out to you?
I really love clays. Clays can be made up of decomposed plant matter, volcanic ash, ocean matter. They’re so versatile, are effective at delivering all kinds of skin benefits, and have this silky, beautiful texture when activated (with water or another base.) I’m also loving raw, organic cacao right now. It’s a skin superfood, smells amazing in products, and has a smooth, silky texture similar to clays.
How else do you incorporate a plant-powered lifestyle into your every day?
I use truly natural products exclusively, organic whenever possible. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m 100% vegan because I’m not. Ideally, I would like to get there. I stay away from processed foods and only consume animal products that come from a certified organic, humanely-run source. My juicer is my best friend -- there is no shortage of raw, organic juice in my apartment.
Out of all your products, what is the one that you use the most? What do you love about it?
Right now, I use SAMPAJANNA ‘Presence of Mind’ Cacao Rhassoul Clay Mask and LAHUTA ‘Lightness’ Vanilla Bean Firming Body Oil the most. The Cacao Rhassoul Clay Mask has this amazing, velvety texture, smells good enough to eat, and leaves me with noticeably softer skin after every single use. The Vanilla Bean Body Oil is just perfect for winter. It’s completely non-greasy, is packed with nutrients, and I can’t get enough of the rich vanilla and coffee bean smell of the infused oils.
What does a morning ritual look like for you?
If we’re being honest, I am not a morning person at all! [Editor’s note: all the best people are not morning people, I’m sure of it!] I really love to sleep in.
My morning ritual usually begins with my skincare routine (rinse with warm water, light exfoliation with my favorite skincare tool of all time -- a konjac sponge, a thyme-powered blemish roll-on for any blemishes, and a few drops of AKALIKO ‘Timeless’ Conditioning Oil) followerd by a tall glass of fresh, raw juice. My current favorite is made with (always organic) carrots, mango, orange, a handful of kale, cilantro or parsley, a chunk of ginger, and turmeric -- SO delicious!
I think that tapping into nature is where we fundamentally embrace our wild selves. How do you think plants connect us with ourselves more deeply? Do you have any experiences with plants, present or past, that inspire you?
I totally agree! My experience is that we are natural beings, so engaging with and surrounding ourselves with nature, is where we feel most at peace and most connected, and therefore, where we are free to find our true selves. Every time I stop to really look into a flower, look up at a 100-year old tree, feel the slippery seaweed washed up on the shore between my fingers -- every experience I have with plants is an inspiring one. Nature leaves me in awe and wonder every time.
For those transitioning to a more wild + natural, self-loving, plant-powered lifestyle, what one piece of advice do you have for them?
I would say listen to what your body needs. It's not about fitting in or following the latest diet trend. Our bodies know what they need, it's just a matter of tuning in.
I recommend keeping a food journal -- write down every bit of food or beverage you consume, write down any physical symptoms you have (ie. headaches, stomach upset, fatigue, etc.), write down how your skin is doing (ie. any new breakouts? rashes or itchiness?) and after a week or two, take a close look at your journal. Chances are, you'll learn a thing or two about what kinds of foods make you thrive, what foods make your skin break out, what foods or beverages you need to cut back on or eliminate entirely, etc. and you can go from there.
Be easy on yourself, make small changes and stick with them, and eventually, you'll get to where you want to be -- healthwise and otherwise.
If you could be any plant, what would you be?
I’d like to be an old oak tree. They’re strong, majestic, beautiful, provide endless shade, have branches low and wide enough to climb. I just love them.
What simple things bring you joy + happiness?
Oh, let’s see. My smiley dog (who I adopted from Taiwan -- his name is Q-bi and he’s my favorite non-human), flowers, trees that have been alive longer than I have, traveling and experiencing new cultures, wild animals, swimming in the ocean, my growing library, sunshine, pastel-colored skies, hearing that people love and enjoy my products, the giddiness of finalizing a new product, making people laugh, fresh juice, sharing my products with my friends (and the world -- thank you, Etsy).
What’s been a life-changing book for you on your journey?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is a masterpiece and I highly recommend everyone give it a read.
Where can we find out more about you online or in person?
I will be at the Patchwork Show (in Santa Ana, CA) with Wabi-Sabi Botanicals on November 29th. I’ll also be at the Artisanal LA Holiday Market (in Old Pasadena, CA) on December 5th, so please stop by and say hello if you are in the OC or LA area!
Elysse is 24 years young and calls beautiful, sunny Southern California home (though many cities and countries around the world have felt like home.) She's a down-to-earth girly girl that loves all things beauty and nature-related, so it's no surprise that she makes 100% natural, vegan beauty and skincare products for a living! Aside from running Wabi-Sabi Botanicals, Elysse also loves to read, take her dog, Q-bi, to the beach, travel to far off lands, and shop small businesses.